Sally Hansen Sugar Shimmer Work of Tart, with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat

Today’s swatch is Sally Hansen Work of Tart, from the Sugar Shimmer collection. I wanted to try out the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat with a non-Miracle-Gel polish, to see if I’d get the same excellent durability, so I used the top coat over Work of Tart.

Here’s two coats Work of Tart and one coat Miracle Gel Top Coat in direct sunlight:

Work of Tart is a textured, somewhat sheer teal jelly with a fine, pearly chartreuse shimmer and slightly chunkier iridescent shimmer scattered throughout. The result is an interesting multidimensional polish that doesn’t quite look like what you’d expect from the bottle, and its appearance shifts depending on the angle and lighting.

Official bottle shot. (Source: SallyHansen.com, source page linked to image.)

Here’s another angle to better show the green-gold underlying shimmer, again in direct sunlight:

Sometimes, the color and the way the shimmer caught the light really reminded me of water, especially when the greenish shimmer came up through the bluer semi-sheer teal jelly. It was unexpectedly pretty. My photos don’t quite do it justice. Here’s another photo in indirect light, where I think it’s slightly easier to see the complexity in the color:

The formula is a little sheer, the way jellies are, but it built up to a reasonable opacity on the second coat. The flexible, medium-width, flat-tipped brush was easy to use – much better than the Miracle Gel nail color brush I wrote about last time. Work of Tart also dries really fast, which is a bonus.

Official bottle shot. (Source: SallyHansen.com, source page linked to image.)

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat went on smoothly, and as I expected, it dried super fast when I went out into the sun for just a few minutes. I definitely recommend using this top coat indoors while the sun is still out, so you can quickly cure it in the sun. It speeds up the drying process a ton, compared to when I used the same top coat at night!

With Work of Tart, I didn’t see any color transfer on the top coat brush. The top coat brush, by the way, is way superior to the Miracle Gel nail color brush. It’s flexible, wide, and round-tipped, and not as bulky and mop-like as the Miracle Gel nail color brush, with clear plastic bristles.

One coat definitely didn’t smooth out the texture in the polish, but the gloss brought out the shimmer nicely. After these photos, I added a second coat, which still didn’t smooth out the texture, as this top coat isn’t particularly thick. I like that there’s no shrinkage with this one, though, which gives it some points over Seche Vite and Julep Freedom.

Like last time, I’ll update this post again toward the one-week mark, so I can tell you how well this combo survived. Until then!

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel B Girl & top coat | Face-off: Julep Paris vs. Nicole by OPI Lips Are Dripping Honey

This post is kind of a two-birds-one-stone kind of deal.

CVS recently gave me a coupon to try out Sally Hansen’s new Miracle Gel polishes, so I decided to go ahead and give them a shot. After all, I’d read some good things about these polishes. I was pretty intrigued by the promise of gel-like durability in a regular nail polish. I know Miracle Gel has the world gel in there, but after reading up on it, it sounds more like a regular nail polish with a top coat that reacts in sunlight to bond with the nail color underneath. It’s supposedly easily removable without soaking, and you don’t need a UV lamp. Yeah, that sounded pretty good to me, too!

This is three thin coats of Sally Hansen Miracle Gel B Girl in natural light, topped with one coat of Julep Paris on the ring finger and one coat of Nicole by OPI Lips Are Dripping Honey (from their Carrie Underwood collection). All of that is topped with Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat, which is what supposedly makes the magic happen.

B Girl‘s formula is fine, though it looked patchy even after two coats, so I added a third for evenness. It looked decent on the third coat, and I love the creamy, minty green-blue color. It’s exactly the kind of color I’m always drawn to. Dry time was average.

Once that all dried, I applied one coat Julep Paris on the ring finger and one coat Nicole by OPI Lips Are Dripping Honey on the middle finger, which I’ll compare in a minute.

Here’s another angle to show the rainbows in the holo glitters:

The main problem with B Girl’s application was the wonky brush, which, frankly, sucked. It’s a wide, almost mop-like brush, with a curved tip, which is fine, but the bristles were unevenly trimmed and resulted in some bristles pressing into the polish and causing streaks. Ugh. At least the polish formula was somewhat self-leveling, though it didn’t quite make up for the bad brush.

LF_140722b

Anyway, it all worked out in the end, thanks to the Miracle Gel Top Coat. It’s a somewhat viscous top coat, though not nearly as thick as Seche Vite. Like with Seche Vite when not applied carefully, I did have some polish transfer onto the brush when I applied the top coat, even though the nail polish underneath was dry to the touch. I did my best to glide the top coat on a la Seche Vite, but it’s harder with the thinner formula. The top coat dried like a normal top coat and took a while, though that was because I painted my nails at night, and I couldn’t use the sun to cure it quickly. I’d recommend using this during the daytime, if possible, so you can take advantage of the UV curing. I’d suppose that a UV lamp could do the same thing, but I haven’t tried this and can’t confirm.

It’s currently one day in, and the nails are looking good, as promised – no tip wear at all yet! I’ll update this in about a week to add notes on durability.

Meanwhile, here’s a face-off between Paris and Lips Are Dripping Honey. When I saw LADH on sale at the drugstore, I was immediately drawn to it…and then I realized I already had its twin at home. Of course, that motivated me even more to pick it up because I love sniffing out dupes. Here’s a close-up (Paris on the left (ring finger) and LADH on the right (middle finger)):

They’re basically the same thing, as I’d suspected: holo hex glitters that are gold on one side and silver on the other, mixed with a smattering of holo microglitters in a clear base. The only real difference seems to be that Paris is noticeably thicker and suspends the glitters better, so that they generally apply in a good distribution, even if you just brush it on like you would a regular nail polish. I didn’t really have to place glitters for LADH either, per se, but just swiping on the polish left a much sparser distribution of glitters. My swatch shows both basically just brushed on without any special technique, though I did end up pushing/dabbing a little with LADH, just because the thinner formula made it a little more challenging for glitters to stay put on the nail. They both dry pretty fast.

Otherwise, I honestly probably couldn’t tell these apart without being told, and you can get the same glitter density with LADH if you just put on two coats. There’s a huge price difference between the two, though. Paris goes for $14 regular ($11.20 Maven) for 0.27 fl. oz./8 mL, while LADH goes for about $7.99 at CVS for 0.5 fl. oz./15 mL, easily cheaper if you have a coupon or catch it on sale. Using the regular prices, though, by volume, Paris is about 3.3 times the price of LADH, a little better (about 2.6 times) if you’re a Maven. I prefer Paris’ formula, but I don’t know if it’s worth the price premium.

The Sally Hansen Miracle Gel colors and top coat go for $9.99 each at CVS and can be much better priced if you can scare up a coupon. :] If you’ve tried Miracle Gel, what did you think?

UPDATE 7/29/14: I wore these nails for 8 days to test out durability, and it stood up pretty well to my being pretty rough with my hands. The only nails that had any chipping or significant wear were the ones where part of the nail itself chipped off (mostly from emphatic piano playing, again) – both thumbs and my right pinky. The rest of the nails stayed amazingly intact! Also, removal was a breeze. The nails with the additional glitter took the usual 10 minutes to soak off, and the rest came off effortlessly in seconds, like a normal creme polish. I think Sally Hansen Miracle Gel is a winner!

Next, I’ll be testing Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat with other polishes, to see if it does the magic on its own. Stay tuned!

Julep Phia, with Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat and Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat

This is two coats of Julep Phia, from the  Julep Maven June 2014 It Girl monthly box, in natural light:

Julep describes Phia as an “[a]lluring orchid iridescent chrome,” though the metallic finish has much more scatter to it than I would have associated with a chrome. Then again, I tend to group chromes, metallics, and foils together as metallic for the sake of tagging posts on this blog, since different brands use these marketing terms to describe different effects, and I’m not entirely convinced there’s no overlap.

Anyway, Phia’s a lovely pale purple-pink that I’d probably have described as a foil because of the more noticeable scatter/sparkle mixed in with the finer, smoother gleam of the base metallic finish, except that it has an added gray shift from certain angles that reminds me of Julep’s molten-finish polishes, like Blakely. The fine sparkle I mentioned earlier is iridescent and mostly twinkles magenta to green in stronger light, though it doesn’t show in my photos. Phia’s interestingly complex if you look really hard, but from a quick look, it’d probably just come across as a pinkish-purple metallic. I do like how it looks paler or darker from different angles because of the gray shift, though.

Another angle to show how the color shifts with the light your viewing angle:

Subtle, but neat.

Phia goes on very sheer on the first coat, and it’s technically still sheer on the second, but the metallic particles are dense enough that you won’t really notice unless you look carefully. Dry time was faster than average, and the Julep brush – which is slightly wide, stiffer than average, and square-tipped – works fine and is the same brush I’ve seen with all Julep polishes from the last few months, at least. It’s not the easiest to mimic the curve of the cuticle when the brush is so wide, stiff, and square, but it’s manageable.

I used Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat ($18 regular, $14.40 Maven) under Phia. I mentioned in a previous post that this base coat didn’t protect my nails from staining when I wore Julep Jennine. With Jennine, though, the nail color swiped onto the base coat evenly, whereas with Phia, I noticed that the base didn’t bond as well with the color and went on unevenly on the first coat. That was a little odd, but the second coat of color looked fine and even. No chipping or flaking yet on the second day.

I topped it all off with Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat (also $18 regular, $14.40 Maven). For those of you who have used Julep Freedom Top Coat: in comparison, Oxygen Performance Top Coat goes on much thinner, but it gels up and dries super fast – faster than Freedom, I think. I’m only on the second day of these nails, so I can’t attest to its longer-term durability, but it’s holding up really well so far, and I opened up a computer and dug through its scratchy guts today, so I take that as a good sign.

I’ll update my thoughts on these products again when I’ve had a chance to test out their durability some more.

UPDATE 7/21/14: The combination of Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat and Julep Oxygen Performance Top Coat provided great durability with Phia! Even after a full week, I mostly only had very minimal tip wear, despite typing constantly throughout most of my waking hours, vigorous piano playing, dish washing, hand washing, showers, and all that. I also had some minimal chipping, but that only happened from the nails themselves breaking from my being rough with my hands (e.g., forcefully hitting piano keys, prying open and working with electronics, and installing computer hardware). If you don’t engage in activities like that, you could probably get through the week without significant wear. Impressive!

Orly Smolder & Revlon I’m Electro

I guess I wasn’t surprised that my Independence Day nails chipped quickly, since Milani polishes don’t seem very durable on me. Milani White took a beating almost as soon as I put it on and looked pretty bad by the second day, so I had to redo all of my nails except for the accent nails.

Here’s Orly Smolder (two coats) on the index finger and pinky and Revlon I’m Electro (three coats) on the middle finger. (I wrote about my accent nail in my last post – it’s two coats Julep Savoy with one coat Julep Fireworks and one coat Julep Diamond Theory.) All nails topped with Julep Freedom top coat and photographed in natural light:

Orly Smolder is a beautifully rich, deep cherry-red shimmer. I rarely go for red nail polishes, probably because red usually strikes me as being a boringly ordinary nail polish color, but I really like this one. It’s got a lot of dimension, and the formula is fantastic, almost opaque in one coat. I kind of wish I had a car this color; it reminds me of the Iron Man suit. Smolder is from Orly’s fall 2012 Fired Up collection.

Revlon I’m Electro is from Revlon’s Spider-Man 2 movie tie-in collection earlier this year, which introduced a surprisingly attractive spread of mildly dichroic (duochrome) polishes. I’m Electro is an interesting not-quite-aqua blue shimmer/metallic with a mild purplish-blue shift. It veritably glows in sunlight and applies great, though it takes three coats for full opacity.

Both of these are great colors. Now, I’m kind of tempted to go hunting from some of the other Spider-Man polishes that I wasn’t able to find earlier, especially since they apparently look extra amazing over black.

Happy Sunday!

Happy Independence Day!

I went for a sort of glittery graffiti/paint-splatter effect for Independence Day:

In natural light:

Ring: Julep Savoy (desaturated gold chrome, two coats), Julep Fireworks (sparse coverage silver, red, and blue multi-sized glitters in a clear base; one coat), Julep Diamond Theory (dense coverage gold and copper multi-sized glitters in a clear base, one thin coat)

The rest: Milani White (stark white creme, three coats), Julep Fireworks (one coat), Julep Diamond Theory (one thin coat), Sally Hansen Hard as Nails Xtreme Wear Rosey Shooter (sparse coverage red and white multi-sized hex, round, and bar glitters in a clear base; one coat)

I had some difficulty with both Savoy, which was brush-streaky but covered well enough in two coats, and White, which was thin enough to be drippy and applied patchily but seemed a little too thick to even out nicely. It was hard to make either look good on its own. The glitter polishes applied easily and swipe-dabbed on like typical glitters, though. All of them were sparse and best used as toppers, except for Diamond Theory, which can probably be reasonably opaque in two or three coats. I like how it looks over Savoy, even without the other glitters layered over it.

Truth is, I wasn’t planning on painting my nails again yet, but it turns out Julep’s new Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat doesn’t defend so well against staining, so I had to cover them up in a hurry. Boo. :[

Jennine’s vibrant teal from this past week stained my nails something fierce on the thumb, middle, and pinky fingers, on which I’d used Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat underneath. I used my usual combination of Sally Hansen Nail Nutrition Green Tea + Olive Growth and Orly Bonder on the clean nails (index and ring), and the difference is clear as day. Unfortunately, this means Julep’s new base probably won’t go into my go-to rotation, since it’ll be reserved for use with light-colored Juleps. Such a shame.

Anyway, just thought I’d give you all the heads up that Julep Oxygen Smoothing Base Coat doesn’t seem to guard very well against staining. It did fine bonding the color to the nail, though, with relatively minimal chipping after a week of wear. Did you have better results?

Happy Fourth!

Face-off: Julep Jennine vs. Nicole by OPI Gumdrops That’s What I Mint

I didn’t realize it until I saw  Julep Jennine in person, but as soon as I held the bottle in my hand, I realized that it really reminded me of Nicole by OPI That’s What I Mint from the Gumdrops line. My gel manicure happened to suffer a bit of a mishap at work yesterday, so it turned out to be the perfect opportunity to go ahead and do a face-off.

Both shades are pretty true to how they look in the bottle. That’s What I Mint is visibly greener/yellower than Jennine. If you don’t look carefully, though, they’re similar enough to be mistaken for the same polish. Both colors are teal textured glitters with flecks of blue, green, and purple.

LF_140626

(UPDATE 7/23/14: My bad. I posted it on Instagram, then forgot to tell you in the blog post which colors are on which fingers! Jennine is on my middle and pinky fingers, and That’s What I Mint is on my ring and index fingers. Thanks for catching that, Joanna!)

Two coats each, no top coat, natural light (wow, did my skin actually learn to tan this year?):

Another angle that shows the color differences slightly better:

You can maybe see the difference a bit better on my right hand, since I applied thinner coats with my less-dominant hand:

Jennine is also slightly chunkier in texture than That’s What I Mint. Otherwise, they’re pretty close – close enough that I wouldn’t necessarily notice unless I was actively searching for differences. Jennine is a tad sheerer on the first coat, but both have easy-to-apply, fast-drying formulas that cover opaquely in two coats. They both dry semi-matte, which I like. I’m willing to bet money that both these colors would be amazing with glossy top coat, though.

My final verdict? Though they’re not exactly the same color, they’re similar enough overall that you probably don’t need both. The NOPI color is the more economical choice, of course, at 15 mL/0.5 fl. oz. for around $8-9 full price at my local CVS (easily cheaper on sale or with a coupon), whereas the Julep is 8 mL/0.27 fl. oz. for $14 full price ($11.20 if you’re a Maven).

By the way? Removing gel polish is such a royal pain! D: Honestly, I think that’s the primary reason I haven’t started doing my own gel manicures yet. It’s going to be regular nail polish for me for now.

ibd Just Gel Polish Siberian Minx

I don’t normally swatch gel polish because I don’t normally use it, but since I got a gel manicure for a friend’s wedding last weekend, I figure I may as well post a swatch for the reference pleasure of the Internets.

This is ibd Just Gel Polish Siberian Minx, from ibd’s Haute Frost collection, which is “[i]nspired by royal Russian winters, elaborate frocks and plush furs.” Two coats in these photos, indirect natural light. (I got this done at the salon, so it’s not my own work this time.)

Siberian Minx is a sheer base densely packed with pale, almost-silver gold shimmer. True to its “plush furs” inspiration, the color really strikes me as the shade of warmed silver-gray I associate with timberwolf fur. Unless you’re looking at my nails up close, like in these photos, it’s actually not that easy to tell it’s sheer because the dense sparkle provides pretty good coverage. I can’t speak as to the formula or anything, since I didn’t do it myself, but the manicurist didn’t seem to have any issues with it.

Also, my manicurist complimented me on my last manicure when she removed it, and I felt all flattered that a nail professional thought I painted my own nails well. She was flabbergasted that I never trim my cuticles, though.

I think I may be an odd beast because I actually don’t really like getting salon manicures/pedicures all that much because of the trimming and pushing. I enjoy the soaking and massage parts of the process, but all the trimming and scraping makes my fingers and toes sore for a couple days afterward. I also find that my cuticles tend to crack and peel if messed with at all, either by me or a trained professional, even if I put on my usual cuticle oil and balm afterward. I’ve only ever gotten two professional mani/pedis in my entire lifetime (once for my own wedding and this time for my friend’s wedding), each at different, well regarded salons, and I had the same discomfort both times. As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, though, I do have exceptionally sensitive skin with dry patches and eczema, even with careful skin care, so that could be it. My friends who came with me didn’t have my experience, so I certainly don’t blame the nail techs. I don’t blame it on anyone but my own irritable skin.

Also, at least half of the reason I paint my nails at all is because I enjoy the painting part, so there’s generally not much incentive for me to pay someone else to do it for me. :]

Anyway, I may not repaint my nails for a while because I figured I should get the most out of the salon service that I spent $45 + tip on, so it might be a little while until my next swatch post. We’ll see how long I can go without needing a change of color!